Korean baseball’s top prize now the goal for SamsungThe Samsung Lions are headed back to the Korean Series.
Korean Baseball Organization champions in 2002, the Lions fought off a determined challenge from the Doosan Bears to wrap up their best-of-five KBO playoff showdown with an 8-5 victory in Jamsil Stadium on Sunday.
The Lions move on to meet the Hyundai Unicorns in KBO’s championship final.
The Bears drew first blood on the road in Daegu, taking Game 1 from the Lions 4-3. But Samsung roared back with three straight victories, including Sunday’s, to clinch the series. This is the ninth trip to the Korean Series for Samsung.
Sunday’s game was not a pitchers’ duel; the two teams chalked up 27 hits between them. Samsung’s Dominican infielder, Mendy Lopez, was selected the series MVP. He had six hits, including two home runs, and six RBIs in 13 at bats throughout the series. He knocked in a three-run homer in the first inning of Game 4 to start Samsung on its way to victory.
Samsung coach Kim Euong-young was not mincing words before the start of the game. “If we don’t win today, we will die here,” Kim said. Proving he meant business, Kim yanked starting pitcher Kim Jin-woong in the fourth inning in favor of Lim Chang-yong. He then sent in ace closer Bae Young-su in the ninth inning to wrap things up.
The Samsung skipper is not prone to making changes in the batting order, but decided to account for Doosan’s leftie Gary Rath by shifting Kim Jong-hoon, who bats right, to first in the order and Jin Kap-young down to third.
In the first inning, with Samsung’s Park Jong-ho on third and Jin on first, Lopez hammered a Rath fastball over the fence for a three-run homer.
Doosan did not go out with a whimper though, fighting back to head into the sixth inning tied at 4.
Doosan shortstop Ahn Kyung-hyun’s fielding error in the top of the sixth allowed Park Han-lee to get on base. Kang Dong-woo and Kim Jong-hoon hit back-to-back doubles, followed by Park Jong-ho’s single, to put the Lions in front 7-4.
“We were lucky because Doosan wasn’t able to turn the game around,” Samsung coach Kim said. “It’s natural for the second place team [Samsung] to enter the Korean Series. Hyundai is a stronger team than Doosan. We need to get prepared.”
by Sung Baik-you, Choi Joon-ho, Limb Jae-un